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Stony Brook MS Quantitative Finance (QF) Program

I've been reading few replies by the same people on Stony Brook Quantitative Finance threads showering praises and explaining how good and math heavy this program is. Please help me to expose this garbage program.

About me: Eco undergrad from top school in my country, finished 1st year in Quantitative Finance track at Stony Brook, will be transferring to Statistics.

First of all, there is absolutely no freedom in choosing electives. You have to complete 12 courses (36 credits) out of which only 2 courses (6 credits) can be taken as an electives. Now, let us look at the core (compulsory) courses:

1. AMS 507 Introduction to Probability, AMS 510 Analytical Methods for Applied Mathematics and Statistics: It is so funny that a program which boasts itself as a strong math program is teaching these courses at graduate level! During the course of my one year in the QF program, I made a friend who took undergrad probability and believe me, AMS 507 is exactly the same course taught from the same book, same topics but repackaged as a graduate course. In fact, some problems in the undergrad course were even more difficult than the grad course. The same goes for AMS 510!
Their explanation? We take students from varied background and its important to bring them to the same level.
My take: This is pure BS because if you really wanted that, you wouldn't have made it compulsory for people with sufficient math background to take these courses. If you're an international student, you'd be shelling out > $6k for these two garbage courses!

2. AMS 511 Foundations of Quantitative Finance, AMS 512 Portfolio Theory: These two courses are taught by professor X who has worked with Jim Simons at RenTech and that is all. His qualifications end here. He has some health issues because of which he delivers his course completely online. He will speak non-stop for 3 hours in one go like a recorded lecture, presents in Mathematica and will make you do homework in the same software. If you want an easy A, take these two courses. The homeworks are the same every year, the material is useless, the exams are also online, unproctored and the questions are exactly the same from the homeworks. Yes, he doesn't even care to change the values. Say bye to another $6k!

3. AMS 513 Financial Derivatives and Stochastic Calculus: This course covers the first volume of Shreve I and almost 75% of Shreve II. Most of the students have no prior exposure to measure theory and therefore almost 1.5 months is spent explaining topics from measure theory. The course is rushed, teaching is bad and dry, the outcome is you only end up knowing some of the processes and how to do some numericals with them. Outside of that? Noway!

4. AMS 572 Data Analysis: Personally, I was good with coding and statistics before I joined the program. So, IMHO another waste course but not in terms of quality. The professor was good but again, will use R and teach you basis statistics. Would I pay $3k for this? Never. But I had to because guess what? CORE course!

5. AMS 516 Statistical Methods in Finance, AMS 517 Quantitative Risk Management: Taught by a professor who got his PhD from Stanford under a very very well known personality in statistics. This professor knows what he is doing, plans his classes, does everything on the whiteboard clearly including derivations. But again, the order is incorrect. If you plan to stay 1.5 years in the program, you will have to take AMS 517 before AMS 516 whereas AMS 517 uses concepts from AMS 516. Lovely planning!

6. AMS 514 Computational Finance: Taught by another RenTech guy who worked directly under Jim Simons. This professor is the only face saver of this program! He is good, really good and knows what he is talking. The only course where you will get to learn something is this one and AMS 516 and AMS 517.

7. AMS 518 Advanced Stochastic Models, Risk Assessment, and Portfolio Optimization: This is taught by a professor who has a really high h-index and he also is the who running the program. (or ruining?) The professor teaches topics which will not match the course description. He is an expert in optimization (at least that is what he says) but will never cover some stat arb, factor modeling or other optimization techniques. He makes the students use some software called 'PSG' for optimization problems (which I think is owned/written by him). It might be a good package for optimization but it has horrrrrrrendous integration with Python. The examples given in the class are solved using PSG and the TA is not helpful either. Two-thirds of the course is filled with topics that are off and should not be taught in this course. One topic that he keeps selling in the classroom is his risk quadrangle theory which is some theoretical framework but apparently has no practical application! At least we were not shown any in the class. He just wants to go over his own stuff even in his second course which is an elective (thank god!).

Career Center: (Wait, what is that? Does it even exist?) It does not even exist so no point talking about it. You will get absolutely no support from the faculty or anyone out there. You are simply on your own. You ask them the placement statistics and they will hand over to you a file listing all the companies where their graduates have been placed. You ask them for more details and they'll never come back to you. At the beginning of the program, the program director sent us a file listing potential job openings and guess what they sent? Openings for quant dev jobs! Bruh! You market yourself as a strong math program and ask us to apply for quant dev jobs when you have absolutely 0 coding component in your program? Nice! I am wondering why Stony Brook MSQF which was at #19 in 2022 suddenly disappeared from the rankings?! I am pretty sure they did not provide enough data.

Weekly Seminars: We have weekly online seminars where professors are called from different parts of the world to discuss their research. Its debatable exactly who this seminars are meant for. Most of the professors who come have no industry experience which makes me think that these so called seminars are meant purely for the PhD students and not for MS QF students. The only industry person I saw in those seminars was Dimitri Bianco (yes, from YouTube) and guess what? Within a few weeks, he made a dedicated video about how good this program was lol

Looking for an affordable MS QF? Around a year ago, I was exactly in the same boat as you are right now. You can even find my post in this forum. I just feel lucky that the graduate program director agreed to let me switch the track. I am not being salty. I am just pissed that someone on quantnet painted an entirely different picture of this program and I ended up wasting my money. As an in-state student, it probably wouldn't hurt as its a very cheap program for NY state residents but as an international student, it hurts bad! And the only reason behind this post is to not let students throw away their money on a third-grade program. Its precious, spend wisely. Talk to students from other programs, make a wise choice, but stay away from this one.

PS: I have purposely not written the names of the professors as the purpose of this post is not to defame anyone but show you the real picture.

Bye Bye, Stony Brook QF and good luck, future quants! :)
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